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Illegal Dumping: Frequently Asked Questions and Regulations

Q. What is illegal dumping?

A.
Intentionally dumping or leaving waste products abandoned on public or private property is called illegal dumping. Waste products can include garbage, household appliances, old furniture, abandoned automobiles, construction and demolition debris, hazardous materials like used batteries, and many other products. Illegally using others’ dumpsters without their permission is considered theft of services.

Q. What are the harmful effects of illegal dumping?

A.
Illegal dumping negatively affects the environment and neighborhoods. The chemicals dumped illegally contaminate groundwater and soil. From soil, chemicals can also enter vegetation and food supplies. Even animals may fall sick after eating trash or may get tangled in the debris. Toxic substances dumped in oceans soak all the oxygen in water and cause the death of fishes and marine animals. Mosquitoes, flies, rats, skunks and opossums, and raccoons can sit on the debris and spread diseases. Illegal dumpsites produce a foul smell and bad sight for everyone diminishing the value of a property. Moreover, illegal dumping creates an economic impact on residents who have to bear the burden of cleanup of the debris.

Q. Why are No Dumping warnings important for property owners?

A.
Clean-up of littered space is the property owner’s responsibility and it is expensive. Plus, dumping has environmental, health, and aesthetic effects on any public or private property and its residents. Unwanted waste can generate pollution too. No Dumping Signs warn people not to dump illegally on your property and let would-be dumpers know about the repercussions, laws, and penalties of dumping.

Q. What are some common examples of illegal dumping?

A.
Usually, throwing waste weighing more than 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet in areas such as forests, alleys, stream valleys, parklands, waterways, curbsides, or vacant lots is termed illegal dumping. However, each state or municipality is in charge of deciding what counts as illegal dumping. Some common examples of illegal dumping are:
-Chemicals and paints
-Construction and demolition (C&D) wastes
-Electronics and household appliances
-Used tires and automobiles
-Household rubbish

Q. How can I stop neighbors from dumping on my property?

A.
You can use the following measures to stop neighbors from dumping on your property -
-Talk it out with neighbors
-Contact the police or report to environment conservation authorities
-Install surveillance cameras
-Put up No Dumping and No Trespassing Signs
-Lock your dumpster areas

Q. What can I do if I see someone dump waste illegally?

A.
All states and city governments have different reporting procedures. You should check with your local laws and ordinances regarding how to report illegal dumping. Some common information that you can gather regarding illegal dumping activity are:
-The exact location where the dumping occurred
-The license plate number of the vehicle
-Description of the vehicle and person(s) involved
-Date and time of the incident
-Take pictures of the dumped material(s)

Q. What are the laws related to illegal dumping on private property?

A.
Laws on illegal dumping differ from state to state. Illegal dumping carries serious fines and can be a Class I felony. While California imposes a fine of $10,000 on illegal dumping, some states like Georgia impose penalties for dumping large items, such as furniture or major appliances and carries fines of up to $25,000 and/or two years of prison for a second offense.
On the federal level, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act applies to large volumes of hazardous waste.
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